NECKARWESTHEIM (dpa-AFX) - Energy company EnBW has taken the Neckarwestheim 2 nuclear power plant off the grid to make it fit for the extended runtime until mid-April. The 193 fuel elements are to be reassembled during a short shutdown of a few weeks. After the restart, the reactor in the Heilbronn district is expected to produce up to 1.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity by mid-April. Without the new configuration of fuel assemblies, only about a third of that amount would be possible, according to earlier data.

"At the same time, we are sticking to our master plan for dismantling," said the head of EnBW's nuclear power division, Jörg Michels. He said the company was supporting the German government in its efforts to secure energy supplies in the current crisis situation. However, he added, this does not change the fundamental stance: "We remain committed to phasing out nuclear power."

Unit 1 in Neckarwestheim had gone into operation in 1976. In 2011, it was among the first to be shut down after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Unit 2 went online in 1989. Actually, it should have been one of the last three nuclear power plants in Germany to be finally shut down on New Year's Eve. But the energy crisis resulting from the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine made the German government rethink: The operating time for the reactor as well as the reactors Emsland in Lower Saxony and Isar 2 in Bavaria was extended until April 15. From EnBW's point of view, a further extension should have been decided long ago in order to be able to implement it technically.

As with previous overhauls, the short shutdown is reportedly taking place under the supervision of the Baden-Württemberg Environment Ministry, and experts from Tüv are accompanying it. More than 500 individual activities are on the program. Around 200 specialists from manufacturing and special companies supported the EnBW team. "We are grateful to all our colleagues who have put their personal planning on hold in the last few weeks and in the weeks to come in order to make a contribution to supply security through their involvement," said Michels./kre/DP/he